Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. I Corinthians 16:13, 14 NKJV

Monday, September 22, 2014

Posting for Awareness Uterine(Endometrial) Cancer- not just a post menopausal woman's cancer

Many - if not all of you have probably already heard my story, but I thought that since September is Awareness month for female cancers (except breast cancer because it has it's own entire month to itself) that it would be the perfect time for me to tell my story one more time just in case some new people come by my blog.

It was 2 weeks after my 44th birthday that I heard the words no one wants to hear. Cancer was found. Two weeks before - I had had a hysterectomy because my Dr had thought that I had adenomyosis.

"Adenomyosis is uterine thickening that occurs when endometrial tissue,
 which normally lines the uterus, moves into the outer muscular walls of the uterus."
 
I had been having very heavy periods for a couple of years. And I had begun to have spotting off and on throughout the month. I had attributed these symptoms to maybe going into menopause. But during the year of 2013 - I had felt like something was wrong. I called and set up an well woman appointment with my Dr. The soonest they could get me in was Oct. Once I had my appointment. I told my Dr what was going on. She said that the best thing to do would be to have me have an ultrasound. So I did. The result were - an enlarged uterus. Since my Dr is not a gynecologist- she told me to pick out what Dr. I wanted to go to. At first I picked the gynecologist that I had before switching to my current Dr. But felt uneasy about the whole situation. I was actually even feeling anxiety. So I contacted a friend of mine who is a nurse. I told her what was going on and she said you will want to have a DaVinci surgery and here are the names of two Dr that do it at our hospital. One of the Dr was the same Dr who had delivered our grandbaby- so I just knew that was who I was suppose to pick.  As soon as I did- I felt total peace about everything.
 
I had my appointment with her and we talked about everything that was going on with me. And she said it sounds like Adenomyosis. And that the best solution would be a hysterectomy. I was told I had the choice of keeping the ovary that I had or having it removed as well. Since I had lost an ovary 18 years before because of a large cyst, I decided that the best thing would be to have the ovary removed as well. I did not want to have another surgery later- if I had problems with the ovary.
 
So once we got approval from my insurance, my surgery date was set. It ended up being about 3 weeks after my appointment. November 18th of 2013 was my hysterectomy. The surgery went well. And recovery went well except that I had a reaction to the Dilodid that they gave me after surgery. And ended up throwing up. After the second dose and throwing up again we figured out what the problem was and so changed pain meds. I was given meds for the nausea and so I slept most of the rest of the day. The next morning I went home - a little before noon.
 
I had been told by the Dr that as long as I was not taking pain meds- I could drive as soon as I felt up to driving. So my husband and I both got a red flag - when 2 weeks later on Monday afternoon at 5pm - I got a phone call from my Dr wanting to see me and my husband and preferably the next day. There were a few more things in the conversation that made me think something was up.
 
But even that much preparation did not prepare me for what I heard the next day:
Cancer had been found in my uterus.
Endometrial Cancer.
 
Not only had they found cancer - but it had spread to more than 1/2 of my uterine wall- the myometrium. If the cancer if found before the half way mark they are more likely to believe that it had been contained to the uterus. But my cancer had spread 1.8 centimeters into the 2.5 cent. wall. So my cancer had actually grown - 75-80% into the myometrium.
And to top that off - I had grade 3 cancer cells!
 
Before that day - December 3rd of 2013 - I had never ever heard of cancer cells getting a grade. And to be honest - when we first heard that my husband and I were both thinking that she had just said that I had stage 3 cancer. The higher the grade that the cancer cells are the more aggressive the cancer cells are, which means that they spread faster then the lower grade cancer cells. And they are more likely to come back as well.
 
The pathology results actually were found on November 19th, the day after my surgery. But the reason why I did not find out for 2 weeks- really ended up being a blessing for me.
 
Very close to my surgery, my Dr lost her Mother in Law to breast cancer. So she was out for a week. Then as my Dr was looking at my file - she noticed that my birthday was on the Sunday after my surgery and then of course then came Thanksgiving on Thursday. So she did not want me to have to have the added stress of finding out I had cancer during that time period - especially since it would be 2 weeks till I would be seeing my oncologist. So she set up my appointment for December 4th. The very next morning after we found out that they had found the cancer. 
 
My Dr had felt bad - that she had waited the two weeks - and was worried that we would be mad at her, but honestly I am thankful that she waited. After having a hysterectomy - you already struggle with your hormones being out of whack and it had taken me the two weeks to figure out what I needed to do to get a good nights sleep. So she had done me a favor. There was nothing I could have done had I know about the cancer before that Tuesday.
 
Anyway I went on to have 6 rounds of carbo/taxol chemotherapy treatments. And of course, 2 weeks after the first treatment - I began to lose my hair. A few days later - I had my husband shave it off. It was easier on my to do it that way than to slowly lose it all. Lots of people say don't shave it cause it's itchy. I did not experience any of the itchiness.
 
I am not going to go through all of the stuff about chemo - but what I do want to say is that if you are facing chemo- take it one day at a time. Chemo for me was a cumulative thing - meaning that the more chemo I got the more of the side affects that I got. The first chemo - was not awful like you think it is going to be. I had the bone pains that shoot here and there. And I had a problem with constipation after each chemo treatment. Some people struggle with diarrhea. So it's a wait and see approach many times. I would also recommend that if your Dr prescribes you meds - like Zofran- like mine did. Be sure and take it those first 3 days or so that they tell you to take it. It is easier to keep the nausea under control than to get it under control once it has gotten out of control. Oh and one more thing- yes - you can just take the Zofran with water like a regular pill. Zofran is a dissolvable pill - and I had thought I had to let it dissolve. And it had the flavor of a cheap mint. And when you are already feeling sick - it is no fun to take a cheap mint tasting pill.
 
Anyway I wanted to share my story in hopes that maybe by my sharing my story I can help someone out.
It is not normal to have heavy periods with lots of blood clots.
It is not normal to spot off and on throughout the month.
 
There are other symptoms - so be sure and look them up especially if you are having either one of these.

Also if you are post menopausal
- and you start spotting or bleeding-
get in to see your Dr right away.
 
Many times women after menopause are able to catch their cancers quick and require no further treatment than the hysterectomy.
And contrary to popular believe- Uterine/Endometrial cancer does NOT only affect women post menopausal. I am a prime example of that. More and more women premenopausal are getting this kind of cancer. Many women in their 30's and 40's are getting it.
So if you are having any of the symptoms mentioned above - or things just don't seem right - be sure and get in to see your Dr.
As I look back over the last year - I can see God's hand in everything. I can see Him guide and direct - me not only to get seen by the dr, but also in what Dr. I picked out- who picked out the right oncologist for me. To the kind of surgery that I had and the decision to have my ovary removed during my hysterectomy- had I not decided to do that _ I would have had to have another surgery to remove it. There are many way in which I know that God was guiding me along the way. Also God gave me the strength and courage every step of the way. There were many tears, and even there are still some now, but I know that God is in control and will never leave me nor forsake me. You can count on Him! :O)

2 comments:

  1. I learned many things I did not know about this type of cancer--thank you for sharing! I know it will help others as well!

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  2. Gosh Lisa, you are so brave to relive your story so you could share it and educate women. Your reliance on God inspires me. You are in my daily prayer journal. Every morning I ask God to give you strength and courage. I also ask Him to heal you completely. Sending you love and hugs. <3

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